In the mid-1980s, Chicagoans on their daily commute into the Loop were amazed at how quickly four new skyscrapers were rising out of the ground. When they were completed in 1986, the four Presidential Towers (“PT”) high-rises (of six originally planned) became and remain the tallest buildings west of the river in Chicago.
When construction began on PT, Chicago’s Near West Side was a picture-book of urban blight and decay. Madison Street was Skid Row and the area seemed a sea of parking lots and mostly derelict loft buildings. Presidential Towers ignited the area’s transformation into the neighborhood we now know as the West Loop. Some credit Oprah Winfrey for the West Loop’s growth, but it would be years before her Harpo Studios arrived on the scene.
The development of PT was facilitated by controversial tax breaks, including the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, engineered by Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The project experienced financial difficulties in the 90s, was rescued from foreclosure by Pritzker family interests, and acquired by the current owners in 2007. “For many years,” according to Crain’s Chicago Real Estate Daily, “the property’s four 49-story towers stood as symbols of political clout and business failure.”
PT’s colorful past is unlikely to matter to renters drawn to the project by its close-in location, great views and extensive on-site amenities.
Presidential Towers is one of the largest apartment complexes in the Chicago area. Its four 49-story towers, designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, encompass 2,346 apartments, an array of commercial shops and extensive on-site amenities and services.
As of late September 2013 studio rents began at $1,355 a month for 12-month leases, convertibles at $1, one-bedrooms at $1,520 and two-bedrooms at $2,635.
You can see floor plans and check current rent levels and availabilities online.
More than 1,400 of the property’s 2,346 apartments have been renovated, and the rest are scheduled for renovation. Changes include the replacement of carpeting with hardwood-like flooring in living areas, updated kitchens and baths, and opening kitchens to the living areas in some floor plans.
The original floor plans were fairly spacious and included closet space that may make renters in newer buildings envious. Take a close look, for example, at the closets on both sides of the entry hall in the studio unit pictured above.
None of the units have balconies or private outdoor space.
Central heat and air-conditioning are included in the rent. Digital cable, HDTV and high-speed Internet access are available at additional cost. Free Wi-Fi is available in a number of on-site public areas.
Views. The four towers are staggered on the site in a way that maximizes the views from every apartment. The site plan and angled bay windows result in many of the apartments enjoying outstanding views of Chicago’s skyline.
Amenities, services, policies
PT’s size enables it to offer an extensive array of on-site amenities and services.
A large landscaped sundeck was recently created in space that had previously been unused.
Interior concourses and individual building lobbies have been transformed. Different designers were chosen to create a unique look for each of the four tower lobbies.
A partial list of amenities includes 24-hour door staff, on-site management and maintenance, full-time concierge service, guest suites, on-site restaurants, dry-cleaning and valet package service, bike and personal storage areas, a “Cyber Center” and lounge, a barbecue and picnic area, and a colorfully-named laundry – the “24-hour Card-based Clothes-Care Center.”
A 28,000 square foot Walmart Neighborhood Market and a 52,000 square foot Fitness Formula Club have opened at Presidential Towers, and additional changes are underway in the retail space. Walmart delivers to PT residents and maintains extended hours for residents only.
Cats and dogs are OK, subject to breed restrictions.
On-site garage parking is available and parking is also readily available in nearby surface lots.
Habitat Corporate Suites offers daily, weekly and longer-term furnished studio, convertible, 1- and 2-bedroom rentals at PT. Some apartments include in-unit washers and dryers. The company has a 24-hour service desk and full-time housekeeping staff on-site.
Presidential Towers is managed by Waterton Residential, which maintains an on-site office. An on-site leasing office is open daily from 9 to 6, Saturday from 10 to 5, and Sunday from 11 to 5. The complex has on-site maintenance and 24/7 door staff.
PT has a Walk Score of 92 – Walker’s Paradise – that perhaps understates its walkability for residents who work in the Loop, reverse-commute by train from nearby Union and Ogilvie stations, attach a high value to expressway proximity or meet many of their dining and shopping needs without leaving the complex. That said, there’s no shortage of dining and shopping options within a few blocks.
Shopping. Walmart is on-site. Full-service Dominick’s (perhaps slated to close) and Mariano’s supermarkets are 3 blocks west, and Jewel is a few blocks north. The year-round indoor Chicago French Market is a 2-minute walk. Whole Foods, Target, Home Depot and other big-box stores along Roosevelt Road are a 5-minute drive.
Heritage Green Park, a tranquil oasis and dog-walker’s destination, is almost across the street from PT. Old St Patrick’s Church, a Chicago landmark and home to what’s billed as the world’s largest block party, is within a block.
Transportation. PT is a short distance from Metra’s Union and Ogilvie stations and Loop CTA stations. Expressway ramps two blocks west provide quick access to the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways. There’s frequent bus service along Madison St, and cabs are always plentiful.
Zip cars and a rental car office are available on-site.
Other West Loop apartments
To view more downtown and West Loop options, check out YoChicago’s comprehensive at-a-glance apartment list and map.
Pats and pans
As you’d expect, any complex of this size has its fans and its foes, and aspects of living here that some might pan turn others into fans. You’ll find 100s of reviews of Presidential Towers at Yelp and ApartmentRatings.
Share your take on Presidential Towers
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